Routines and Their Rewards


The predictable patterns and daily rhythms of an unhurried life (especially upon retirement) offers satisfactions and re-assurance rarely documented or acknowledged. They relate to ongoing routines, minor matters, tasks undertaken and completed, together with predictable encounters that daily occur. Accomplishment is achieved along familiar paths, within a comfort zone well-established. Consider such a typical daily passage.
• Awakening to surrounding silence at much the same time each day. Curtains drawn back, allowing the light to flood in, exposing the day.
• Coffee measured out and brewed, breakfast prepared (with choices long limited, and ingredients readily at hand).
• The New York Times, as always wrapped and resting right outside my door. For years I headed directly to the Sports Section. Now it’s straight to the front page. These are serious times: too much is at stake. Requires almost an hour to absorb the latest. Considerable satisfaction in knowing that you’re caught up,” been supplied with essential “news.”
• Emptying the dishwasher (or clothes dryer), making the bed (properly positioning all the decorative pillows), then showering, shaving and getting dressed for the day. I’m well along. Much already accomplished.
• Review “To Do” list completed the night before. Six to eight items, not unusual, plus phone calls. Must change a doctor’s appointment. Smooth sailing – I’m not put on hold, plus I get a new date and at a convenient time! My car is due for a regular oil change. “Bring it right over.” “I’ll be there in 15 minutes.”
• Time spent at the auto shop is always enjoyable. Been with Ralph for years. He’s totally professional (no girlie calendars), operates with five experienced mechanics (plus he takes pride in being an expert diagnostician). Just as important is the conversation. We like each other, talk openly and at length. I usually rely on him for updates on the state of the auto service business. (He’s endlessly wary of auto dealerships and their “service” departments.)
• Doing chores around town becomes enjoyable because you know most of the folks behind the “counter.” Waiting on line at the post office does become tiresome, but eventually you get to the front and are talking to workers who’ve been there “forever” (and counting the years before they can retire). Having sent off package after package from my local UPS store; I know the staff well. Accordingly, I get prompt, efficient service, plus pleasant chit chat. I’m well acquainted with many of the friendly bankers at Chase and have engaged with the same State Farm Insurance Co. representative for decades. Same with the shoemaker, also the jeweler down the street. Then there’s the local diner – familiar menu, same waiter from time immemorial. Thus, business around town means dropping in on acquaintances of long-standing. Accordingly, the comfort level is high, the encounters predictably cordial.
• The chores proceed smoothly. Once in the car, distances are short, convenient parking rarely an issue. The clothes at the dry cleaners are ready, pick up a filter at the hardware store, a prescription at the pharmacist (not a chain) and soup (pea soup, my wife’s favorite) at a nearby restaurant, where I know the owner from the time she opened twenty years ago. In practically no time I’ve checked off every item on my list. How rewarding is that?
• Food shopping, usually twice a week, almost always Trader Joe’s. Usually an upbeat experience – manageable store, fair prices, unusual items and helpful staff. Typically my wife and I buy the same stuff each time, including a multitude of frozen dinners. We know the shelf location of each item. Consequently we’re out of there quickly, back home in minutes, with everything, promptly put away. Quite remarkable it is, to be able to feed ourselves for nearly a week having spent no more than an hour or so.
• Evening arrives, nighttime follows and an incredible world now is readily available. There are endless gleanings on YouTube, the proliferations of Netflix and Amazon streaming, explorations on the internet, and Wikipedia, favorite TV offerings, including live sporting events. How amazing to be able instantly to venture so far and wide, to choose from such a rich assortment of “entertainments,” worthwhile and worthless.

Such are certain standard features of my ordinary day. The fabric of life often reveals intricate patterns and bold colors, but typically set against a background of essential but otherwise ordinary material in between.

Leave a Reply